(JTA) — Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a parliament session broadcast live nationally defended his condemnations of the Holocaust, saying that he will not allow Iran to be demonized by accusations of Holocaust denial.
“Iran is an independent, mighty and stable country, but widespread propaganda and political activities are underway to portray Iran as a threat to the region and the global peace and security,” he said.
Zarif was summoned at the request of parliament hardliners, who are worried that the administration of President Hassan Rouhani has softened on Israel and the Jews, and who are angry at Zarif for having condemned the Holocaust.
Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, denied the Holocaust, and as recently as March, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, questioned its scope.
Zarif said that Israel is trying to inflame anti-Iran sentiments with accusations of Iranian Holocaust denial.
“(Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu shamelessly raises hue and cry that Iran is denying the Holocaust and says that Holocaust-denying Iran is after creating another Holocaust by producing an atomic bomb,” he said.
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 was roundly condemned for calling the Holocaust a “myth.”
Zarif in September 2013 told the Islamist Tasnim news agency that “Tehran condemns the killing of Jews by Nazis but at the same time stressed that the Holocaust has become a pretext for Zionists to violate the rights of Palestinian nation.”